Current Wedding Photographer Guidelines for COVID Weddings
With the new weddings season fast beginning in South Australia, I thought I might put out what I understand to be current wedding photographer guidelines for COVID weddings.
This information is currant as of publishing this blog – however the situation and guidelines may change – and have been changing almost daily since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. So please use this information as a starting point for your own research.
The ‘COVID Safe Plan’
As part of operating a business in South Australia, you may have heard of the SA health’s ‘COVID safe Plan’.
Photographers are not stipulated under the ‘defined public activities‘ that require a COVID safe plan – however our activities are directly related to the COVID management plans put together by any venue or location where a wedding is taking place.
That said however it is prudent for any professional currently working with people to complete a voluntary COVID safe plan as many venues are still asking for photographers to produce their COVID safe plan despite not legally requiring one. I can understand that as a wedding is all about working as a team, from staff on site to any suppliers. The voluntary safe plan only takes 2 minutes to complete anyway.
As a side note however, if for some reason you are producing wedding photography in your private studio, you will need a COVID safe plan. This is not to be confused by a COVID management plan which is only needed if you are hosting over 1000 guests or serving alcohol.
To complete these forms links to each are available on the SA health website.
Operational wedding photographer guidelines for COVID weddings
As a result of current social distancing obligations for the general public, and also stipulations outlined by a venue’s COVID management plan, the way a photographer can conduct themselves at a wedding can be very different. Heres a short list of some ways in which I personally have changed how I work at a wedding.
Room density and private residences obligations
This obligation usually concerns any preparation activities at either the bride and/or groom’s place of preparation at a private residence or accommodation.
Room density needs to be checked so that the current SA Health guideline of 1 person per 2 square meters of a room. This may mean that if a bridal party is being prepared in a tiny hotel room, there may be a restriction of 2-4 people in the room. You may need to ask the hotel for guidelines on this.
Alternatively, private residences may not have more than 10 guests, to a maximum of 20 people per gathering. For example, a house of 5 residents may have 10 guests but a house of 12 residents may have only 8 guests. This number would include any suppliers such as a photographer, make up artists, etc.
Possibly the most disappointing from the perspective of the bridal couple would be the restrictions on group photos. as far as wedding photographer guidelines for COVID go, this is the one that people may get a little upset about.
The current obligation to socially distance yourself from any other person by 1.5 meters means that you should not be huddling together any more for any group photos. The only exemption to this would be if the entire group lives under the same roof as a family group.
This means that as a photographer you should be enforcing this guideline as it’s an obvious breach of the overarching government social distancing guidelines which would also be in place within the venue’s COVID management plan.
You can approach group photos in a number of different ways – either spread each person or family group out 1.5 meters from one another and capture a rather un-intimate group photo. Or you can place the bridal party out the front of any family group you may wish to take a photo of and combine the group that way using depth of field.
Whole group photos tend to be too tricky to accommodate this altogether unless you have a large open space nearby like an oval and perhaps use a drone.
While wearing a mask is not mandatory or even recommended yet within South Australia, you may want to ask your bridal couple if they would want you to wear one – just as a customer service consideration. It can make you look like you’re on tp of things and take your job seriously.
As a part of most COVID management plans for venues, there is an obligation to sit down while drinking. This does not solely affect the consumption of alcohol but actually concerns the consumption of any liquid and food for that matter. So if you need a drink of water – you must sit down.
Luckily for most weddings, the first dance is still a thing you’re allowed to do, and take photos of. However there will no longer be any bridal party joining in half way. This is something the venue’s COVID marshal would be on top of, but its something I’ve included here just so you’d be aware of whats happening compared to a normal wedding.
This said however many venues will not have a dancefloor even set up due to the ban on dancing ‘as a whole’ and ‘loud music’ intended to make people get up and dance together. So if you plan on having a first dance, perhaps make sure your venue is clear on your intention and make it clear that you’re only planning on having the two of you dance together.
I’ll be adding more here as the situation changes, but this little list of wedding photographer guidelines for COVID weddings in South Australia is currently how I have changed how I shoot a wedding, and as I understand it I’m currently following all government obligations.